Monday, August 01, 2011


The main response to Mitt Romney's comments on the budget deal has been to accuse him of cravenness. That's fair, obviously: he didn't have the guts to take a firm position while the issue was being debated.

But please think about the implications of the fact that Romney wouldn't take a stand and then covered his ass by positioning himself to the right of Grover Norquist:

After sitting almost silently on the sidelines for weeks, Mitt Romney on Monday declared that he was opposed to the debt ceiling compromise....

"As president, my plan would have produced a budget that was cut, capped and balanced -- not one that opens the door to higher taxes and puts defense cuts on the table," Mr. Romney said....

I think it can be argued that a wannabe-tough-guy coward is potentially more dangerous than an ideologue. Consider the fact that George W. Bush actually was an ideologue for the most part, but even as he pursued a horrendous foreign policy, he was able to blunt calls for demonization of Muslims, and he did make an effort to get an immigration bill through Congress, despite his base's visceral hatred of illegal immigrants.

On Islam, of course, Romney has also been a coward trying to look tough: back in 2007 his campaign categorically ruled out having any Muslims in his Cabinet, although he later tried to walk this back.

Now, think about the kind of Congress Romney will probably have if he becomes president -- in all likelihood it'll be two GOP-majority houses with the tea party as the ideological driver in both. Is Romney going to have the courage to stand up to anything these people want? Internment camps for Muslim U.S. citizens? Loyalty oaths for liberals and moderates? Nuclear war against Iran or North Korea? Is he even going to have the minimal courage George W. Bush had to stand up once in a while to people on his right?

I fear he won't. Which means, if he's president, the angriest zealots will be driving policy, and he'll rubber-stamp it no matter what it is. His cravenness could make him the most dangerous top-tier candidate in the Republican field.

No comments: